Sustaining Philadelphia’s culture boom

Posted on: September 23, 2013

In Sunday’s (9/22) Philadelphia Inquirer, Peter Dobrin writes a wide-ranging article examining the state of the city’s nonprofit arts groups, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Curtis Institute, following substantial government and private investment. “When the idea first bubbled up more than two decades ago … a greatly broadened arts and culture sector was to be Philadelphia’s savior. Hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private money was poured into expansions and new buildings, sometimes creating institutions from whole cloth. New audiences, economic development, and civic vitality would follow, planners said. The arts were the centerpiece of the plan, and it worked.… Thanks to the arts, Philadelphia feels different today. But now that the building boom of new facilities is over, the question is whether the city and its benefactors can muster the support to become savior to the arts. With operating costs up and philanthropy and ticket sales failing to keep pace, stress cracks are appearing in institutions all over town. Some groups, saddled with debt payments, are adjusting offerings to become more commercial. Others have declared bankruptcy or are contemplating it.… Can Philadelphia provide the resources to keep open everything that has been built?”

Posted September 23, 2013